Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homeschool Field Trip: The Creation Museum

My little girls and I spend a lot of time reading world myths and legends. We know Anansi, Bible stories, the Gollum, Isis and Osiris, Zeus and his pantheon, and just about anything, in any worldview, that includes a dog or a horse or a unicorn.

We know that different cultures believe different things, and live their lives through those beliefs. A kid's own interest in Ancient Egypt is enough to teach her that lesson, without any adult say-so.

We know our good etiquette. We know that we never make negative comments out loud in public. We don't tease others. We don't make fun of what we see. If we are guests, we make ourselves agreeable, even if we disagree. We smile, and we say thank you, and we express enthusiasm when meeting strangers, etc.

These are all works in progress, obviously (and honestly, I'm not the family member with the least to learn), but all well enough along  that when my dear friend, Mac, planning a visit to our part of the country, invited us along on a a trip that he was taking to the Creation Museum to research an article that he's writing, and said that he could arrange press passes for us so that our visit would be free, as well, I was thrilled.

Seriously. Animatronic dinosaurs hanging out in the Garden of Eden? Sign me up!

The Creation Museum is a dinosaur lover's dream come true, in any worldview:

That's our friend, Mac. He made an excellent co-parent for the duration of the trip, a far cry from the random wanderings around Europe that he and I once made together, with two changes of clothes, a sweater, a notebook, and a novel for a month of travel. Now my day trips involve two bags of groceries, a dozen picture books, a dozen children's novels, crayons, coloring pages, mazes, the GPS, Angry Birds on my Android, and the entire first Harry Potter novel on audiobook.

Oh, and children's cold medicine, hand sanitizer, and a whole bunch of wet wipes.

And there still weren't enough cans of raspberry lemonade!

We all briefly met the very nice, very charming director of the museum, and while he and Mac had an interview, the girls and I wandered.

Animatronic dinosaurs, right above our heads!

Of course, this is what I was there to see:

Mac caught up to us as we were viewing the exhibit of live finches and frogs--

--and off we went down the time tunnel, back to the Christian Creation and the Garden of Eden. There are lots of really cool components to this worldview, including the idea that before the Corruption (the second of the seven C's that we learned about), there were no carnivores. That dinosaur is eating a pineapple!

Here's the money shot, folks--Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with the dinosaurs:

After the Corruption, some creatures became carnivores, as this display of a snarling, lunging animatronic dinosaur, a bloody dead dinosaur corpse at its feet, shows. The girls were fascinated by how GRAPHIC the display was, with a bloody tongue hanging out of the dead dinosaur's open mouth and everything:

No weeds! Who knew?

Willow did an abysmal job on this computer quiz about Bible trivia, bless her heart. We know the stories, sure, but apparently not enough of the details:

Fortunately, the displays have a lot of handy little trivia bits. I now know what a cubit is!

Willow is seven, and has always had a pretty good grasp of the difference between fantasy and reality. She's never been snookered by Santa Claus, or my attempts to insist that unicorns are real. These historical revisions through the Christian worldview honestly didn't throw her for a second. She knows when dinosaurs really lived, and can enjoy the fantasy without being troubled by it.

Sydney is five, and she pretty much lives in a fantastical world of her own making. She couldn't give a flip about the difference between fantasy and reality, and had a ball trying to figure out interpretations of all the exhibits. She looked at this exhibit of workers building Noah's ark:

"Pirates?" she queried.
"Nope," I said. "Noah's ark. The workers are building a gigantic wooden boat that will hold two of every single kind of animal in the whole world to keep them safe from a big flood."
"Oh," she said, perfectly satisfied. She knows about Noah's ark. It makes just as much sense as pirates, who also make sense.

After the ark is built, we move to models to describe the rest of the events. Here are all the animals boarding the boat:

See the dinosaurs?
When we saw the dinosaurs getting on the ark, we were all, like, "Whoah!" Mac and I thought for sure that the explanation for why there aren't dinosaurs NOW would surely be that they weren't invited on the ark, but there they are, happily boarding two by two right behind the giraffes. Alas, there wasn't a docent around to ask, so that when Sydney, gazing fascinatedly at the ark model, asked, "Did unicorns get to get on, too?", I had to be all, "I have no idea!". Maybe?

In the next display the boat gets launched, and it all goes to hell. Literally:

I wish you could see the details in these models! There are people in the act of drowning, people who are lying on the rocks, dead, people falling to their deaths, people throwing punches at each other, people signalling the's off the freaking hook!

See the bears? There's a dude getting attacked by a bear! And I think somebody is going to throw a boulder down on top of that other person. And that woman? Dead. I don't have much hope for the chances of any of those people, frankly:

Catastrophe is the most exciting of the seven C's, so after that we breezed on past Confusion and Christ and... there are two more C's in there somewhere, but the point is that we breezed past them, detoured to ride the dinosaur--

--and went outside to the petting zoo. There were goats, and llamas, and wallabies, and peafowl, and the zedroids--a zedonk, a zorse, and something else to represent modern-day adaptation and genetic change and variety, etc. The camel ignored me and the girls, but LOOOOOVED Mac:

There was a great natural area to explore, with a swinging bridge and a floating bridge to jump on, and koi ponds, and ducks, and fountains, and lots of trails to hike:

At the gift shop I did NOT purchase the imitation crown of thorns or the sucker with a scorpion inside, I wanted to purchase a toy Noah's ark set but couldn't find one, and I did purchase a postcard of the Noah's ark scene (dinosaurs and all!), a Newton's cradle, a dimorphodon glider, and two little toy animals for each of the girls, from the large collection that represents the variety of creation. Willow purchased two dragons, and Sydney purchased a horse and a dog-like creature.

"What's that?", Mac asked her.
"A baby werewolf," she nonchalantly replied.

It's a couple of years before we're even going to start working on that fantasy vs. reality business with her.


Allison said...

I'm glad you ladies had fun on the trip! How nice of your friend to get you free admission. I'm not so sure I would of been as brave as you, taking that kind of an adventure.

Allison D., from LEARN

Teresa Robeson said...

I didn't even snicker once (or throw up either) reading this post! I'm going to have to show it to a friend. She wanted to check out the museum (because who doesn't enjoy ogling train-wrecks?), but she doesn't want to give them her money to see it.

julie said...

I'm definitely in the weird minority, but I have no problem stepping into other people's worldviews like that. I'm far more concerned that my girls are behaving respectfully than I am worried about them hanging out inside very odd belief systems, so I dressed them modestly, reminded them about their manners, and off we went! It certainly helped that everyone there was very nice and that the museum is really well put together, although I still can't figure out why there wasn't a Noah's Ark playset in the gift shop for me to buy?

Natalie said...

I'm a regular stalker on your blog, but I wanted to let you know that this post had me laughing, then picking my jaw up off the floor all at the same time. I love your writing.
I'm in that boat with you though, I think it's great for my kids to learn about all kinds of religions, beliefs, and traditions. It helps them to develop and grow into their own truths, as well as to be a better world citizen.

Tina said...

I know I read this post before, but after being in a Christian homeschool co-op this past school year, I am with you. I want my kiddo to learn about as many different world views as she can because how else will she know what to make of this crazy world.